Sunday, November 28, 2010

Northcote won, but Labor set to lose Government

With yesterday's Victorian State election raising the prospect of a hung Parliament or, more likely, a Baillieu Coalition Government, counting is basically complete in Northcote. Fiona Richardson is set to retain the Labor stronghold - it would appear just needing those Liberal preferences that would have made things very close if they'd gone instead to the Greens.

My own result has been pretty modest, but I'm glad I had a go. I ran a stronger and more organised campaign this time around, with better media coverage - particularly in the Northcote Leader (thanks!) - as well as a lot of support from family, friends and climate campaigners - thank you to all.

From voters I managed to reach and who were therefore aware of my policies, the reception was very positive, and I was heartened by the people who were supportive of an independent running in the seat in their kind words to me on the day.

On the whole, the challenge for an independent running in Northcote is the lack of party affiliation, the inability to blanket the electorate several times over with campaign material, paid billboards and other advertisements, and the reality of being able to cover only a fraction of polling booths for a few hours each on polling day. That's the deal you agree to going in, and it's one that I accepted.

Despite Labor holding the seat, Northcote hasn't been immune from the big statewide swing against the Brumby Government, despite the resources devoted here to a largely negative Labor campaign. I put that overall swing down to arrogance, and to a string of Labor failures on key issues - myki and public transport, planning, services, and the dismissal of the community's voice - just to name a few.

Again the Greens increased their vote (well done to Anne Martinelli and her team). I would like to think this reflects community sentiment for strong action on climate change. However, a lot more work still needs to be done not only by the Greens, but by everyone in the climate change campaign community. The importance of urgent action on climate change must be an issue shared across a range of political perspectives if we are to address the threat it poses.

The challenge now will be to forge a new campaign in the context of a hung Parliament or a Baillieu Government. The Coalition's policies on climate change are not strong compared even to the weak policies offered by Labor, and the promise of some progress at the federal level must be used to argue for stronger action here in Victoria, including the rapid phasing out of coal and the replacement of Hazelwood with renewables by 2014.

I am committed to contributing further to this work and, where I can, to the broader life of the Northcote community, despite my modest result in this election. Participation by ordinary people in the democratic process is never failure.

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Comments are most welcome on any of the posts at Northcote Independent. I encourage feedback - positive or negative. Feel free to disagree, but remember that posts are moderated to ensure they are on the topic and in the spirit of open debate, as outlined in my editorial policy.